“It was such an exhilarating feeling to be part of this and to honor all those fallen people,” Victoria Argis said in Long Beach on Sunday.
The West Islip woman and her daughter, Alithea Shono, had just joined about one hundred others who paddled on surfboards out in the ocean as part of a 9/11 memorial. Argis started to cry when she talked about watching the Twin Towers under attack as she stood atop the roof of P.S. 225 in Rockaway Park, where she was a teacher.
“It just brings up a lot of emotions for me,” she said about witnessing the terrorist attacks. “So it felt really good to be part of it.”
Among the others who took part in the 9/11 Memorial Paddle Out, off National and Edwards beaches, were members of the military and the surf club at Long Beach High School, pro surfers, firefighters, police, lifeguards and surfers. They took with them a ceremonial wreath from the prior memorial service that included 9/11 families; FDNY firefighters; sailing teams from United States Navel Academy, West Point and Fordham; and local Christian, Jewish and Muslim leaders. Before hundreds of attendees, the paddlers formed a circle, held hands and laid the wreath at sea.
“Everyone joined hands and there was a USA chant, which was kind of powerful,” said Annie McBride, a Williamsburg resident involved with the Surf Rider Foundation, a Long Beach surfing school.
Christina Kown of San Diego was another participant. She works for Quiksilver, the company that held the Pro New York surfing competition in Long Beach last week. Her mother, Maryanne, stood and watched her from the shore. She said Christina was 22 on 9/11, and that she wanted to take part in the memorial to honor those that were killed that day.
“This was a very important part of her life, even though it was ten years ago and she was much younger,” Maryanne said. “I think this puts a real significance on what exactly happened that day.
Andrew Nies of Bellmore took photographs of the paddlers from the shore. He said the original wreath-laying 9/11 paddle out was at Ocean Club in Atlantic Beach days after the terrorist attacks. He and others honored their friend, Jeff Shaw, an electrician from Levittown who died working at the World Trade Center.
“This is phenomenal,” Nies said about Sunday’s event. “This is the best I’ve ever seen it. [It’s a sad day], but it makes me happy to see all these surfboards. And everyone’s here for the same reason, whether they lost someone or they were affected by it. It’s unbelievable.”
Mike Matey, Quiksilver’s vice president of marketing, took part in the paddle out as a way to pay respect to the people of New York, from firefighters to those who lost their lives.
“It’s just real special to be here and be apart of it and pay our respects in this way,” he said.